Andy McKay

Oct 27, 2012

Political parties and the internet

The internet hates middlemen. Travel agents, book publishers, newspapers, music and film "industry", retail shops in general. Anything that stands between the source and the consumer for too long will eventually be whittled away by technology and the internet. Direct from the creator to consumer is the mantra of the digital age.

So let's talk about political parties. Let's preface this by noting that I'm talking about Canada and its Westminster styled Parliamentary democracy throughout all the levels of government. This system focuses on one party in power and one party in opposition. Although it copes with more, it is focused on a small number of parties. Other democracies have different ways of doing this.

Although I'm extremely interested in politics, I struggle with political parties. I've signed up for a few mailing lists, but find them frustrating in their partisan nature. They continually put out messages and signals that decry the opposition for their choices. They focus on winning political points and getting news time. When I join one I feel like I just become a tool for them to use as opposed to the other way round. Political parties serve a couple of uses, they allow the broad aggregation of lots of differing views and opinions into one group. By doing so they can provide a unified voice on issues, giving that group of people the power to hopefully change policy in that area.

And there in lies the problem, I don't fit into those parties. I agree with and support some bills. Then disagree with others. I can't simply follow the line and agree when they say something stupid. I get frustrated that they get into straw man arguments, when the real solution is likely a nuanced position based on facts and is likely somewhere in the middle, a combination of all the facts.

I feel like the party is the middleman that is stopping more intelligent debate and resolution of issues.

To carry on the argument, we could also assume that the elected representative is another middleman that's ripe for disruption. In fact this political structure that has direct voting from the public on every single issue has been the subject of many a science fiction novel.

But let's focus on the here and now, it's the parties that annoy me. We need to increase transparency. Not just of what our elected representatives are doing, but the bills that are being proposed (and not being proposed). We need to be able to focus on the issues that matter to us and get them to the attention of our representatives and then see the result. We need to give our elected representative our support, rather than the political party.

The job of our parliamentary representative is to represent us, not the party. That's why I'm interested in and other tools to see if we can increase this and start to make politics in a way that works for me - without the middleman.